Calan DVS has been awarded £2 million by the Big Lottery Fund to provide effective intervention measures for children and young people exposed to domestic violence and abuse.
Such is the scale and nature of domestic violence in the UK, the majority of media coverage only seems to concentrate on the adult victims of these crimes and its perpetrators. What is less reported are the effects and impact this abuse has on children and young people. In the UK, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will experience domestic violence during their adult lifetime, and an alarming proportion of this violence takes place around children.
A child or young person’s circumstances at home may not always be evident to the outside world. They will often conceal the painful reality of their home lives out of a sense of loyalty to the family, or out of fear of the consequences. Their experiences frequently remain invisible until a serious or fatal incident alerts the authorities.
According to the most recent figures from the NSPCC, 12% of children under the age of 11, 18% of 11-17 year-olds and 24% of 18-24 year-olds in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse between adults in their homes during childhood. Adult males were the perpetrators in 94% of cases where one parent had physically abused the other (2011).
A report by the Department of Education, ‘New Learning from Serious Case Reviews 2009 – 2011’ looked at the consequences, both physical and emotional, to children living in households where domestic violence was prevalent between adults. Its findings offer an honest and uncomfortable assessment of both the immediate and long term harm caused to children exposed to domestic violence, and of a self-perpetuating cycle of violence from one generation to the next.
In case studies of children between 5 and 10 years-old the report highlighted; the potential risks for children to suffer direct, severe harm, including homicide, and the emotional harm suffered by children living in situations of ongoing domestic violence. In some cases, one or other of the parents had grown up with domestic violence between their own parents, and thus it became seen as normal marital behaviour.
Domestic Abuse has been the highest factor in referrals to Children’s Services in Wales over past three years, and figures from the Welsh Government reveal a year on year increase in this area (March 2013).
Commenting on the award from the Big Lottery Fund, our CEO, Rhian Bowen-Davies, said, “We are delighted to have been given this ground breaking opportunity in Wales to design and deliver this intervention programme. The five year project will be piloted across the Neath Port Talbot and Powys Local Authority areas. These two very distinct geographical regions were chosen based on comparative data, and for the diversity of challenges that they present. We will draw upon experiences and best practice across the UK and further afield with the aim of providing an evidence base for effective interventions that can be replicated elsewhere.”
She added, “The project will work with children and young people who are exposed to domestic violence and abuse in their homes, with young people who find themselves in an abusive relationship, and young people who are demonstrating abusive and controlling behaviours. The wellbeing and safety of these young people is paramount. We will also be seeking to break the intergenerational cycle of domestic abuse. The success of this project will be determined by a committed multi-agency and partnership approach within the community.”
Minister for Local Government and Government Business, Lesley Griffiths, whose portfolio includes responsibility for tackling Domestic Abuse welcomed this news for Calan. She said, “I congratulate Calan for their achievement in securing this very important funding to help protect our children. Domestic abuse is a terrible crime which affects not only the victim, but whole families. Any support for children affected by the domestic abuse of a parent is therefore very welcome.
“Children are often the silent victims of domestic violence. Often they will be traumatised by what they have witnessed in their own homes, in the very place where they should be safe. The abuse can have a severe impact on their behaviour, health and educational performance. Ending violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence is, therefore, vitally important, not just for the victims, but for their children too.”